What are the ingredients for a good base in French proficiency?
Start with some high-quality online French lessons and then mix in some grammar fundamentals.
But what about seasons in French?
Well, that’s the vocabulary you’re going to acquire, and you can never have too much!
And not just any vocabulary! I’m talking about adding some real seasoning to your French proficiency.
Are you starting to catch my drift?
What I’m trying to say is: I’m going to teach you how to name and talk about seasons in French.
Let’s get started!
Enough teasing about it, let’s get seasoning!
A season in French is translated as une saison. It’s a feminine noun so it takes the feminine articles la (the) and une (a), and adjectives that describe this noun must be feminine also. For example, you could ask someone which is their saison préférée (favorite season), using the feminine adjective préférée (favorite).
Each saison contains trois mois (three months). These saisons and mois create une année (a year).
Being in the Northern Hemisphere, France experiences similar seasons to those in North America.
There are four distinct seasons in France: spring, summer, autumn (or fall) and winter.
Despite being a single country, the climates in France can be quite different depending on where you are. In the northern regions of France, there’s a colder and more pronounced winter than in the southern regions along the Mediterranean, which experience a much warmer climate.
Furthermore, in other French-speaking countries around the world, such as those located in Africa or Polynesia, weather can be quite warm year-round, without a distinct winter at all.
The Basics: How to Say the Seasons in French
Below is a look at the names of the seasons in French. The m. or f. beside a French word indicates whether the word is masculine or feminine. Remember that masculine words take the articles le (the) and un (a) and feminine words take the articles la and une.
Click on the hyperlink to hear an audio recording of each French word.
L’hiver (m.): the winter
En hiver: in the winter
Le printemps (m.): the spring
Au printemps: in the spring
L’été (m.): the summer
En été: in the summer
L’automne (m.): the autumn (also: fall)
En automne: in the autumn (in the fall)
Pay special attention to the pronunciation of the word hiver. It’s atypical of the regular -er ending. Rather than being pronounced like the -er in parler (to speak) as in “may,” the -er is pronounced like the English word “air.”
Using Articles and Prepositions with French Seasons
To talk about the seasons themselves, use a direct article. For example:
L’hiver est froid. — Winter is cold.
Ma saison préférée est l’automne. — My favorite season is autumn.
On the other hand, using these seasons with the prepositions en or au gives them the meaning of “in the” or “during the.” These prepositions are useful if you want to talk about things that happen during a certain season.
Note that printemps is the only season to take au (literally translated as “to the”). The other three seasons all take en (in).
Les canards retournent au printemps. — The ducks return in the spring.
J’irai en Europe en été. — I will go to Europe in the summer.
Common French Seasonal Vocabulary
Now that we know how to say the seasons in French, let’s check out some common vocabulary associated with each season. These include activities specific to each time of year as well as weather words and common weather expressions.
Keep in mind that months don’t get capitalized in French like the do in English: they remain lowercase at all times.
Vocabulary for l’hiver (winter)
L’hiver in France typically consists of the months of janvier, février and mars (January, February and March). This time of year is characterized by cooler weather and even snow in the northern or mountainous regions of the country.
Let’s check out some common vocabulary associated with l’hiver.
La neige: snow
Le bonhomme de neige: snowman
La boule de neige: snowball
La glace: ice
Le froid: the cold
Il fait froid: it is cold (Keep in mind that French uses the verb faire (to do) to describe the temperature.)
J’ai froid: I am cold (French also uses the verb avoir (to have) to describe the temperature that one is feeling.)
Le patin à glace: ice skating
Le ski: skiing
Faire du ski: to ski
La planche à neige: snowboarding
Le glaçon: icicle
Les gants: gloves
Le bonnet: hat
Le manteau: coat
Les bottes: boots
To see these words in action, let’s use a couple of them in a few example sentences:
En hiver, je porte mes gants, mon chapeau et mon manteau. Il fait froid et il y a beaucoup de neige. Je fais du ski et de la planche à neige.
During the winter, I wear my gloves, my hat and my coat. It is cold, and there is a lot of snow. I ski and snowboard.
Vocabulary for le printemps (spring)
Le printemps typically consists of the months of avril, mai and juin (April, May and June). This is the time of year when the weather starts to warm up and plants begin to grow again, filling the landscape with green trees and beautiful flowers.
Here’s some common vocabulary associated with le printemps:
La fleur: flower
Le tulipe: tulip
Le papillon: butterfly
La pluie: rain
La parapluie: umbrella
Un oiseau: bird
Une abeille: bee
Le nuage: cloud
Il fait frais: it is cool
Un imperméable: a raincoat
Now let’s use a couple of these words in a sample paragraph:
Au printemps, les oiseaux retournent du sud. Il fait frais et il y a beaucoup de pluie. Je porte un imperméable et j’adore toutes les fleurs.
During the spring, the birds return from the south. It is cool, and there is a lot of rain. I wear a raincoat, and I love all the flowers.
Vocabulary for l’été (summer)
L’été typically consists of the months of juillet, août and septembre (July, August and September). Like in North America, l’été is the hottest part of the year. As such, students are often on summer holidays, and people are social with lots of outdoor activities and parties.
Let’s look at some common vocabulary to celebrate l’été:
Le soleil: sun
La chaleur: heat
Il fait chaud: it is hot
J’ai chaud: I am hot
La canicule: heatwave
La tempête: storm
La plage: beach
La crème solaire: sunscreen
La piscine: pool
Nager: to swim
Les lunettes de soleil: sunglasses
Le maillot de bain: swimsuit
La pastèque: watermelon
Le short: shorts
Les sandales: sandals
Les tongs: flip-flops
Le parasol: beach umbrella
Les vacances: vacation (Note that this is always plural when talking about taking time off work or school for a vacation.)
Now, let’s set the scene for a hot and relaxing summer day:
En été, je vais souvent à la plage. Je porte mon maillot de bain, mes tongs et mes lunettes de soleil. J’aime nager et manger de la pastèque.
During the summer, I often go to the beach. I wear my swimsuit, my flip flops and my sunglasses. I like to swim and eat watermelon.
Vocabulary for l’automne (fall)
L’automne typically consists of the months of octobre, novembre and décembre (October, November and December). During this time of year, the leaves on the trees begin to change colors and fall, and the weather becomes cool again.
Some common vocabulary associated with l’automne is:
Un arbre: tree
La feuille: leaf
Un tas de feuilles: a pile of leaves
Le changement de couleur des feuilles: the changing colour of the leaves
La citrouille: pumpkin
Tailler une citrouille: to carve a pumpkin
Le vent: wind
La rentrée: return to school
Un pull: sweater
La récolte: harvest
Un râteau: rake
Un coupe-vent: a windbreaker
La tarte aux pommes: apple pie
Le maïs: corn
During the autumn, you might say the following:
En automne, on voit le changement de couleur des feuilles. Je mange la tarte aux pommes et du maïs. Je porte un coupe-vent et je taille une citrouille.
During the autumn, we see the changing of the leaves. I eat an apple pie and some corn. I wear a windbreaker, and I carve a pumpkin.
A good base of French vocabulary is always in season. Now go forth and use your newly-acquired vocabulary to talk about any season in French!